So it is now the start of May and nearly two months have passed since the last Premier League football game was played between Leicester City and Aston Villa. Two aborted attempts to restart have now come and gone yet we are still no nearer resuming the 2019/20 season.
In Europe, of the leagues still yet to finish their season, clubs appear to be splitting in to two camps. The Bundesliga in Germany, La Liga in Spain and Serie A in Italy are taking tentative steps to resume training and ultimately finish their seasons. This contrasts with Eredivisie in Holland, the Belgian Pro League and Ligue One in France who have all ended their seasons (though with some final promotion and relegation places to be decided).
The Premier League in England appears to be holding on to the hope that the season can be rescued – possibly to retain the integrity of the competition but more likely because of the vast sums of money Sky and BT Sport have already paid to the clubs for TV rights. Various scenarios have been put forward in the last forty-eight hours from playing games in ten neutral venues, playing all remaining games at St Georges Park and even playing all the remaining games in Australia.
I respect of the game in England, all of the above is irrelevant anyway until the government is able to take the country out of lockdown. The next key date for that decision should be by the end of this week so we may know more then. But at the moment the Premier League appear to be having conference calls on a weekly basis without making any key decisions - they cannot anyway without government support.
Even if the clubs get the green light to go back to training what will the constraints be? Football is, after all, a contact sport but we are living in an age of social distancing. It is also a game of the fans and all the likely scenarios assume that games will be behind closed doors. All this is before we even get on to the topics of players on loan or players whose contracts run out on the 30th June.
What the Premier League need to do is set a target date. If by that date, there is no agreed proposal to restart or if the government has not lifted the lockdown, then the 2019/20 should be declared null and void. All clubs, including those further down the pyramid, can then start to plan for the 2020/21 season. Football authorities just get your heads out the sand!
Posted : 3rd May 2020